USF Awarded $750K to Continue Literacy Work in Western Addition Schools

SAN FRANCISCO (April 12, 2016) — The University of San Francisco (USF) has received a legacy grant of $750,000 from San Francisco RBI (SF RBI), a nonprofit that integrated reading and baseball to raise literacy levels of under-resourced youth in San Francisco, now winding down its operation. The generous funds will be used to continue literacy work through Engage San Francisco, USF’s university-wide effort to serve the Western Addition neighborhood with unique projects and learning opportunities that meet community-identified needs.

USF was selected to receive this grant because of its work with SF RBI and longstanding commitment to community engagement. From helping to design the program’s reading component, to having USF student-athletes coach and mentor young people from SF RBI, and hosting many of the SF RBI baseball events on campus, USF supported the efforts of SF RBI and its mission of sharing one’s talents with those in need.

“The legacy of SF RBI will live on through USF’s encouragement, inspiration, and teaching of children in the same spirit we pursued so passionately,” said Jim Messemer, founder and executive director of San Francisco RBI. “USF is poised to help build a model program, as an anchor institution with faculty expertise and student talent in literacy, athletics, and service learning. On behalf of all of those responsible for the preservation of the SF RBI impact, we could not be more gratified to make this contribution.”

Additionally, USF has a strong history of literacy partnerships and resources to facilitate the development of this new literacy program for the Western Addition. These include affiliation with Sacred Heart’s Heart to Heart program and Mo’MAGIC’s summer reading initiative, as well as tutoring with America Reads, providing literacy support to kindergarten through third grade students in five San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools and two after-school programs. These pre-existing partners, community input, and USF faculty and staff knowledge will provide the wisdom that will inform and shape this grant-funded initiative.

“I am very pleased to see that the great work begun under the auspices of San Francisco RBI will live on as USF’s Engage San Francisco guides this continuation of literacy and wellness activities at select schools in the Western Addition,” said USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. “USF’s many decades of service to persons and families in the Western Addition positions us well to be faithful custodians of the vision of Jim and Debbie Messemer, as well as the intentions of many individual and corporate sponsors who made their dream a reality.”

USF’s long-standing and multi-faceted connection with the Western Addition is reflected through academic and co-curricular partnerships across disciplines. Examples of these partnerships range from USF faculty working with Magic Zone, a non-profit located at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center that primarily supports under-served African American families, to USF staff volunteering with Groceries for Seniors, a non-profit that delivers to seniors with uncertain access to adequate food, as well as School of Nursing and Health Profession students working in Western Addition community clinics providing residents with physicals, eye exams, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, as well as referrals for additional medical services.

This summer, Engage San Francisco will work with partners in the Western Addition to develop an effective program that meets community-identified needs of its youth. Program details will be announced closer to its launch in selected schools.

Engage San Francisco is housed within the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at USF. For more information, please visit

About San Francisco RBI

Founded in 2010, San Francisco RBI believes that all children, regardless of circumstance, should be able to read at or above grade level. Strategically aligned with Major League Baseball, San Francisco RBI achieves this goal by working with schools in diverse under-resourced communities and collaborating with a robust network of public and private entities. Together, we implement an innovative data-driven model that integrates reading, baseball, softball, technology, and wellness, thereby educating the whole child.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and stunning cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.” For more information, please visit